Annual general meetings of Reliance Industries are never dull. This year was no exception.
When Mukesh Ambani, dressed in a white shirt with a red and white check tie and a black coat, walked into the Birla Matoshree auditorium at 10:45 am, there was commotion among shareholders to shake hands with the billionaire who leads India Inc's first family.
Ambani was accompanied by his wife Nita, mother Kokilaben, and sons Akash and Anant.
They accepted the adulation showered on them with genial smiles and appreciative nods throughout the meeting.
While one shareholder praised the Ambanis in verse, another called them the couple of the year, and a third commended them for being a model Indian family.
Some shareholders wanted more dividends and bonus, some recommended a Bharat Ratna posthumously for Mukesh's father Dhirubhai Ambani.
One shareholder wanted Reliance Industries to build a mall at Panvel in suburban Mumbai and another suggested the company take over the sick unit Aarey Milk Dairy, Maharashtra's local dairy.
Nita Ambani, dressed in a peach-coloured salwar-kameez, was clearly the star of the show given her impending appointment on the board of directors.
The resolution to do so was met with thunderous applause.
A shareholder pointed out that the inclusion of Nita Ambani on the board would be akin to having ‘a rose among sunflowers’.
But it was not all bouquets.
A common complaint that almost every shareholder had was inadequate dividend.
One shareholder even likened himself to Sudama and Reliance Industries to Krishna.
“Reliance Industries is scaling new heights, which is evident from its growth.
“But it seems the company has forgotten about the shareholders and the situation is very much like Krishna reaching for the skies with Sudama left behind,” said the shareholder.
Ambani replying to shareholders said, “All perpetual shareholders of Reliance for the past 37 years have had the highest return not only in India but anywhere in the world.
“So there is no Sudama. We are all Krishnas.”
Shareholders lauded Reliance Industries on becoming India’s first private company to earn revenue of over Rs 4 lakh crore (Rs 4 trillion) and net profit of Rs 22,493 crore (Rs 224.93 billion).
Commenting on the disputes Reliance Industries is involved in, Ambani said, “I am a big believer in working with people who have different views to convince them that what we are doing is right.
“I want to assure you on behalf of my board that we are here to win trust and we will win trust with truth and transparency.”
Image: RIL chief Mukesh Ambani with wife Nita; Photograph: Getty Images